Sunday, 11 December 2011

Christmas Wreath

Just popped this up on the front door. My daughter and I made it from materials gathered from the woods.
We used a laurel sapling as the hoop, with Yew, Holly and Ivy for decoration.
Willow fibres held it together and to hang it on the door.

Hope you all have a good Christmas folks. :)

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Not had much time to make recently, but as I've moved on some blades recently I thought I'd swap my main user (enzo traper) for one I made a while back. Its one I forged out of an old rasp. It was a bit bulky originally so the handles been re-worked and a new edge ground on. I love the birch bark spacers when they are all cleaned up. The rest is leather, brass, birch burr and Sycamore if I remember rightly, all foraged in the woods or from bits of scrap. The Bolster is Buffalo horn, not exactly a local find but nice to work with.

Its been a tad chilly of late so i made it and another old knife a new sheath. Sorry about the picture quality.

Hoping to get making again soon.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Campfire cooking

Shared a great few days recently camping out with some friends, practising some skills, keeping warm and eating well.

Cant wait till the next camping trip.

Friday, 18 November 2011


Just finished off one of these, just waiting for the adze to arrive and I can get making some nice bowls and kuksa a bit easier than normal. Its all Birch except for two of the Ash legs. I felled the tree and cut out the parts with a chainsaw, drilled with an old auger, and cleft and shaped the legs on a shave horse.

Plans are available from Robin Woods website

Monday, 14 November 2011

Bark Containers

I managed to harvest some birch bark a few months ago and had a go at some others types of container.

The two containers left and right of the group are the newest ones, using the self locking method on the left and a willow bark stitched example on the right. Both have an inner section of bark glued in to increase the thickness.

I'm quite pleased with them. Most folks like the matchbox best though which is fine by me as its easier to collect the bark pieces for those and there fun to make.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

A quick overnighter

I decided a night out in the woods was in order last night, so I packed a simple amount of modern kit and headed out after work.
No camera but I had the phone in case of a problem, so I'm afraid the pictures are from that this time.

By the time all was sorted at home it was dropping dark, and I arrived to my campsite in darkness, but i like to mix things up from time to time and I set to putting up the camp. Tarp up, it was time to look for fire lighting materials and main fuel. I collected the various sized kindling needed - matchstick thick, pencil, and thumb and arranged with some pine needles underneath and fired her up with a match.

All that was needed were some sausages, homemade flat breads and a brew.

Then just settle down for the night just keeping warm as it had dropped colder than of late

I slept better than I have been at home recently and I woke up to this...

Time to brew up, so I lit the fire using the amadou I made recently and the fire dogs, with a few birch twigs to encourage flame.

Then after Tea and Porridge, time to strike camp and head on home.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Making Amadou

I recently ran out of by last batch of Amadou, the natural tinder for making fire using the percussion method  with flint and steel capturing the sparks and turning them into an ember. I prefer using this method over Char-cloth when I find the time to manufacture some out of Bracket fungi.

I come across bracket fungi all the time during my inspection work with trees as they are a serious problem with the decay of the roots, and main stem of many trees. many species of these brackets can be manufactured into amadou, the most referred to being the horses hoof fungus - Fomes fomentarius. Although great in number they are rather small and difficult to extract the trauma layer. A good alternative are the Ganoderma species. You wont find them as often unless you look for them most days, but when you do, you get a bumper crop.

I used a small section of a much larger specimen for this preparation. the rest is still feeding off the decayed stem of a Beech tree. You often find Ganoderma on older Oak specimens too.

Outer cuticle and tube section removed to leave the trauma layer.

I then boiled up a litre of water with two handfuls of hardwood ash, which was then strained through muslin into another container to remove some of the fine particulate, but retain some potassium in the solution.. I've not tried this separation method before but it seems to work a little better on the end result. The little man of the house donated the supplies. 

Then back on to simmer with the fungus pieces added. Lacking a campfire on this occasion so the stove came out to play during the day, and I sat him on the woodburner during the evening. Quite useful for a long controlled simmer. It had a good soak in the solution for over 24 hrs. several of which were hot, topped up now and then with a splash of water.

Then I flattened the sections with the baton...

...and left to dry, massaging them now and then to leave them supple like tanned leather.

This batch goes up a treat with very little effort and should last a while. 
My favourite way to light fire.


Friday, 23 September 2011

Event pictures

There have been lots to sort through to go with the previous post of the recent work I've been doing, so I've added just a few so as not to bore.

Bushcraft walking events. These pictures came from the Shipley Country Park walk. The general idea of the day carried on with the other walks recently.

Hope you enjoy.

These next pictures were from the Elvaston Castle Woodland Festival I worked at where there were many demonstrators covering just about every traditional woodland craft and many others too. Great bunch of folks and a great weekend was had. We had an area to ourselves promoting the countryside service and some of the Bushcraft and Green woodworking skills we like to teach during other events.

Smoky old morning once our area was lit up. We had a a few cooking demonstrations too with a range over a fire, stoves and a brick built oven.

The shelters. All built by ourselves to traditional designs in Mike Abbots book "Living Wood" My shelter is on the end and came in handy during the short heavy showers.

Spoons, kuksas and bark work were the demonstations of the day from myself. As well as the cooking, we had children's activities too which was a busy old place.

Teaching the next generation of pole lathe turners. The chap on the right is Morris, a volunteer who brings a lot to the event and our little meetings when working on projects.

Heres a link to pictures of most of the demonstrators at the event that a fine chap called Steve took during his visit.

Looking forward to next years shows and events already. Just finished a batch of Rosehip Syrup for a wild food walk on Sun for folks to dip there bannock in. Even the Daughter liked this experiment so I don't expect it to last long!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Working at Chatsworth Country Fair 2011

I was at Chatsworth promoting the upcoming woodland festival at Elvaston Castle and the work that the Countryside service at DCC do. There was general info kids activities with willow star making and a few of us wood turning and wood carving. The shelters worked really well and we let folks have a go on the lathe which proved popular with all types of people.

My little somerset shelter was just right for my spoon and kuksa carving demo with a few simple tools and sharpening gear which folks also seemed to like to talk about.

Hard work but good fun, the red bull aeroplane display, red arrows and skydivers were all in the sky above too. One of the best parts were all the hot air ballons taking off around 08 :00 in the morning. Shame I didnt get any shots of those. One nearly landed on my landy!

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Bodgers shelters

With help from the volunteers at work we finished a bodgers shelter for pole/bungee lathe demos, and another type we've been calling a Somerset Shelter. The ideas were gained from Mike Abbott's book "Living Wood".

I like them both but the Somerset (on the right) turns into a tent-tarp for camping when the front supports are removed and it weighs far less. In the day at demos I'll be using it for preparing billets for the lathe and demonstrating kuksa & spoon carving, fire and cooking.

 Both are made from poles of Birch, Ash and Alder we collected, and stripped, and the material is a thick cotton canvass we had made up to size. All cordage is sisal.
Looking forward to using them in a few days at the Chatsworth show.